How the Tribal War God El Became the Trinity of Christianity

The Canaanite storm god El
Photo credit: University of Chicago

It is so very easy to see how the foundation was laid for monotheism to arise out of early pagan polytheism. One need only look at the name "El." El was the tribal storm god of the Canaanite peoples and head of a panoply of many lower gods. Consider that the general name in the Bible for "God" is "Elohim." It can refer to God, gods, or judges and rulers (Exodus 22:28). With the primacy of this deity established, it isn't hard to see how the early Canaanite-turned-Israelite tribe during the reign of only-one-sun-god-worshipping Pharaoh Akhenaten got its start. This further solidified the evolution of Moses' Yahweh who spoke to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:1-17). 

Consider that at this time, the Jews worshipped the wild boar as Osiris worshippers proudly did, which later led to the known sect called Israelites forbidding the consumption of swine (Leviticus 11:7) to avoid lapsing back into such idolatrous worship again. It became great blasphemy to sacrifice or have anything to do with swine (see Isaiah 66:3). This is similar to the way in which modern Mormons do not mention the Adam-God doctrine, which they dropped very early in the development of the Mormon Church. 

Time passed, and in 586 BCE, the Babylonian captivity changed things up again. Now at this point, the Yahweh became a spirit of both good and evil forces, sort of a mystic force that switches sides to prove points (think: Cyrus of Persia - Isaiah 44:28). It is accepted historically that the idea of a spirit came about at this time and became pervasively accepted in all the religions of the world. Man came to terms with all of those dreams he had and decided that he was traveling outside of his body, which essentially led to the evolution of the spirit concept. It became infectious like it is today. 

Pictured: Heracles crushing the snakes
sent to kill him as a child.

At the time of Jesus, the idea of the pagans had been locked in with the militant Jews who were awaiting a Messiah to free them from oppression. The first century would have been a perfect time for a Jesus like this to come, which led to the creation of a merger--a merger of the virgin-born god-man concept of the pagans with the idea of the Jewish Messiah and liberator of the Jews. Jesus' veneration was the result of this. And just as Hercules was marked for death at birth and had to fight off snakes sent by Hera to kill him as a baby, even so Jesus was "marked" by Herod and attempted to be killed as a child (history tells us that this did not happen). The author of Matthew was trying to make the narrative sound like that of Moses who was targeted by Pharaoh at his birth (Matthew 2:16-18; Exodus 1:22). 

Pictured: a three-in-one Roman deity
From there, it only took 325 years, until the Council of Nicea, for the idea of God, the Messiah, and the Spirit of God (translated "God's active force" in the New World Translation) to become merged into one god with three separate parts -- thanks again to paganism, which fostered swivel-headed gods and goddesses. Emperor Constantine, the first convert emperor to Christianity, was in fact a devout pagan, but took it upon himself to utilize paganism to usher in the Christian age as we know it--an age of materialism and gift-giving (think: The Feast of Saturnalia) and what we know today as Christendom. The once-united god of one was now a god of three...and yet still somehow one? 

Thus, after all this time, we are stuck with what orthodox Christianity has made into a bastardization of what was already a hideous distortion of an understanding of the natural world. Of course, it can be argued that all attempts to naturalize spirituality or the natural world will betray ignorance on our part, which proves too much for some. To alleviate their own doubt, they simply must fill in the gaps with concepts of revealed religion, which are all invariably wrong. The rest of us are content in our understanding that true spirituality - or lack thereof - rests not in any myth or legend, but in the human quest for understanding and in unrestrained self-honesty. Said honesty cannot be forced, sold, suppressed, or monopolized in any way. The search for enlightenment need not consist of guilt or fear or grasping for answers where none are apparent. We can let those things go while our ancestors could not. We need only be honest about what we don't know. Then only can peace and understanding finally come.